Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Sun Halo at Sixty three Degrees North
Happy Solstice! Today is the December solstice, marking an astronomical beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere and winter in the north. On its yearly trek through planet Earth's skies, at this solstice the Sun reaches its southern most declination, 23.5 degrees south, at 21:48 UTC.
Thor not only has his own day (Thursday), but a helmet in the heavens. Popularly called Thor's Helmet, NGC 2359 is a hat-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor's Helmet is about 30 light-years across.
The Tadpole Nebula in Gas and Dust
What's causing the commotion in the Tadpole Nebula? Star formation. Dusty emission in the Tadpole Nebula, IC 410, lies about 12,000 light-years away in the northern constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga).
The 25 Brightest Stars in the Night Sky
Do you know the names of some of the brightest stars? It's likely that you do, even though some bright stars have names so old they date back to near the beginning of written language.
Apollo 17 VIP Site Anaglyph
Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this stereo scene from Taurus-Littrow valley on the Moon! The color anaglyph features a detailed 3D view of Apollo 17's Lunar Rover in the foreground -- behind it lies the Lunar Module and distant lunar hills.
Returning from beyond the Moon, on December 11 the Orion spacecraft entered Earth's atmosphere at almost 11 kilometers per second. That's half the speed of the grain of dust that created this long fireball meteor when it entered the atmosphere on December 13, near the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower.
Full Moon, Full Mars
On December 8 a full Moon and a full Mars were close, both bright and opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. In fact Mars was occulted, passing behind the Moon when viewed from some locations across Europe and North America.
Lunar Dust and Duct Tape
Why is the Moon so dusty? On Earth, rocks are weathered by wind and water, creating soil and sand. On the Moon, the history of constant micrometeorite bombardment has blasted away at the rocky surface creating a layer of powdery lunar soil or regolith.
An Artful Sky over Lofoten Islands
Can the night sky be both art and science? If so, perhaps the featured image is an example. The digital panorama was composed of 10 landscape and 10 sky images all taken on the same night, from the same location, and with the same camera.
An Unusual Globule in IC 1396
Is there a monster in IC 1396? Known to some as the Elephant's Trunk Nebula, parts of gas and dust clouds of this star formation region may appear to take on foreboding forms, some nearly human. The only real monster here, however, is a bright young star too far from Earth to hurt us.